Unwavering – Hooked On Code

Episode graphic for "An Agency Story" podcast with Torie Capistran - title Unwavering - Hosted by Russel Dubree - picture of Torie in the lower right corner.
Torie takes us on her journey of setting up her own business. She recounts the challenges she faced in the early stages, including the daunting task of building her entire business from scratch. Despite the obstacles, Torie's determination and entrepreneurial spirit propelled her forward.

Company: Hooked On Code

Owners: Torie Capistran

Year Started: 2014

Employees: 1 – 10

In this podcast episode, host Russel interviews Torie Capistran, the Owner and Lead Designer of Hooked On Code, a website and marketing consulting company that specializes in premium, responsive WordPress websites. The conversation begins with Torie sharing her background, highlighting her entrepreneurial family and the inspiration she drew from them.

Torie then takes us on her journey of setting up her own business. She recounts the challenges she faced in the early stages, including the daunting task of building her entire business from scratch. Despite the obstacles, Torie’s determination and entrepreneurial spirit propelled her forward.

The discussion dives into Torie’s unique approach to website development. She emphasizes the importance of involving clients early in the process, providing them with a development link as the first deliverable. This fosters collaboration, transparency, and ensures that everyone is on the same page from the start.

Torie also delves into the significance of effective communication with clients. She highlights the value of listening to feedback, particularly when it comes to dislikes and concerns. Torie and her team strive to create an environment where clients feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and where constructive dialogue leads to better outcomes.

Throughout the episode, Torie shares her experiences with client reviews and the challenges of meeting their expectations. She stresses the importance of understanding the balance between professional recommendations and accommodating client preferences. Torie’s goal is to ensure that clients are satisfied and that the final product aligns with their vision.

The conversation wraps up with Torie reflecting on the lessons she has learned along the way. She discusses the importance of refining processes, embracing feedback, and continuously improving to provide the best possible service to her clients.

Enjoy the story.

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Show Transcript

Welcome to An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. From the excitement of starting up the first big sale, passion, doubt, fear, freedom, and the emotional rollercoaster of growth, hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach. Enjoy the next agency story. Welcome to An Agency Story podcast. I’m your host Russel. On this episode, we have Torie Capistran the owner and lead designer of Hooked On Code, a website and marketing consulting company that specializes in WordPress based out of Frisco, Texas. Not many businesses are started on a sunny tropical beach as Tori shares her journey of setting up her own business. Despite facing initial challenges, building our business from scratch in the sun. Tori’s determination and entrepreneurial spirit drove her forward. Effective client communication is paramount for Tori, no stranger feedback. She and her team strive to create an environment where clients feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and where constructive dialogue leads to better outcomes. Enjoy the story.

Russel: 

Welcome to the show today, everyone. I have Torie Capistran with Hooked On Code. Thank you so much for being here today, Torie.

Torie: 

It’s a pleasure.

Russel: 

My pleasure as well. If you don’t mind, start us off with a quick overview. What does Hooked On Code do and who do you do it for?

Torie: 

We build websites, in a nutshell. We do it in a way that does not suck for the client, which is rare because every website project experience that I’ve ever heard about from our clients, which are mostly businesses, they range from one and two person small businesses and startups, all the way to global enterprises. They come to us with horror stories and we can show them through our tight structure and schedule and process why it’s not going to suck. We back it up with our 100 percent money back guarantee that, in case it does suck like you’ve been through before, you could walk away and get all your money back. No one’s ever done that, but we try to stand up for logic and doing what you say in an industry full of bad experiences.

Russel: 

Hooked On Code: we don’t suck. There you go. For those listening, do go check out the website. It is straightforward and good positioning at its best. She stands behind her words. Before we get into present day, go back in the time machine a little bit. It sounds like you had an entrepreneurial family. Did you think you were going to eventually start your own business one day? What was young Torie thinking?

Torie: 

Oh god, no. I envisioned myself in bright red patent stilettos and a pencil skirt scratching my way to the top of the corporate ladder somewhere. I imagined it as glamorous. I’m all about winning, so I was like, yeah, I’m going to win at work. I loved school. If I could be a student my whole life, I would be so happy. To have somebody tell me good job and that I’m the smartest and that my grades are the best. I’m a little bit of a Hermione Granger and a huge Harry Potter fan. I did not anticipate being an entrepreneur, and even though I think my mother is one, she’s on her 2nd business. I never registered that’s what she was, ever, my entire childhood. My dad was a chemical engineer and we moved a lot with that oil and gas industry type job. My mom picked up her piano studio and had to move it and start over with brand new families and brand new students every time we moved. It’s almost like she had as many businesses as we had houses. Every time we moved to a new city, she had to essentially figure out what the market wanted, figure out the right messaging, how to find the right people, what pricing would work for that market. But I never thought about it, ever. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur.

Russel: 

What a tough journey to actually have to set up your entire business, it’s obviously very people, in person driven, everywhere you go. Boy, bet she’s got a tale or two.

Torie: 

It was hellish, yeah. Now that she’s settled and they’re not moving again, she has retired from teaching piano and has built a company around her 40 years of experience with energy work and different practices. Most people are familiar with Reiki, but she has maybe eight different methodologies that she’s used, Reiki being the one that she’s done the longest. She’s a very fascinating person and she’s figured out how to take something that she understands, that sounds like she’s off in la la land sometimes to me, but into a incredible business where she’s teaching courses online and mentoring people and guiding people. Now, I do register, oh, my mom’s an entrepreneur. She’s running a business and that’s cool. She is actually a partner in Hooked On Code. She’s a non managing member, so she’s there when I need her and can consult on things. That’s fun that we’ve shared that since about 2017. She’s been officially a part of leadership.

Russel: 

Might be one of the first or very few parent relationships for guests on the show, so very fascinating. Fast forward a little bit. You have a cool story on how you built your website. Probably a lot of people would be jealous in terms of the experience, I believe, in a very exotic location, if you don’t mind sharing about that.

Torie: 

I graduated from business school and I was like, I have all the awards and I have all the grades. Give me good job, Dallas. At the time, the only job offers that I was able to get were in sales, because a degree in marketing, apparently, companies think that means you can sell stuff, which ain’t true. I am an introvert, so that kind of a career wasn’t an option for me if I was not going to hate my life. I had met my future husband on spring break, my senior year in college, and when I realized that I did not have a job offer that I wanted to take, he was like, you could come live here on the beach, because he worked at a resort in Acoma, Mexico. I was like, all right. On July 4th on independence day, right after I graduated college, I moved to the beach. I lived on a resort and I was there for about six months. During that time, because I was quite bored and not having anything, air quoting, meaningful to do, I decided that I needed to create something. I created a business of sorts. It was going to basically become a paleo health and fitness blog. Ideally I would make some money off of affiliate sales with products or supplements or things that I thought were going to help people be healthier. I never got to that point because I had so much fun deep diving into learning HTML, CSS, some basic PHP, learning WordPress, which is supposed to be DIY user friendly but there’s such an enormous learning curve. I got to do that learning curve on the beach, in a project that didn’t technically have any deadlines, but there were some days that I sat at my computer and worked six, seven and eight hours, despite living on the beach, because I had so much fun learning and building something. Creating it from nothing. That’s not something that I’ve gotten to do very much in my life, until that point. Have an idea and then the idea became a real thing that you could see and share. I got to learn how to build websites on a beach in Mexico. After about six months I decided that I did want an actual job and I wanted some structure. Still at this point, I had no intention of being an entrepreneur, zero, absolutely none. I wanted a job in corporate America so that I could start living that fulfilled adult life that I thought was next.

Russel: 

Awesome. I can’t even imagine what that would be like to live on a resort, that’d probably be a problem for my belly. I don’t know if you got access to all the food, but that would certainly be a problem for me. What a cool experience and obviously freeing in a lot of ways. Tell us the evolution. You came back came back from the beach and got that job in corporate America, but didn’t sound like it wasn’t too long before the writing was on the wall that you were going to start your own thing. What was that evolution? What was your thought process right around the time you decided to start Hooked On Code?

Torie: 

I did love my job in many ways. As far as corporate jobs go, I figured out that I had maybe the best one that I was going to get. I hit the jackpot. It was a great company. I had the best boss. For me as a human and all that I was and how I operated and thought, I had the best boss. After about a year though, there was… this bizarre political thing that happened where our departments, what was her title? She was like the admin for the entire marketing department. Every single person in the marketing department hugely benefited from this person’s presence. She ran the reception desk of the whole marketing department. This person at the time,we hadn’t seen her in a long time. We were all asking, how’s she doing? Where is she? After about a month, we had a staff meeting, which had never happened, a monthly staff meeting in the marketing department, and we were then given an announcement that she was no longer with the company, why she had left, what the reason was. I will never know how true the filtered version of what happened and what was delivered to us in that meeting was. I don’t think it was a big deal. I don’t think it was a scandal. I don’t think there was anything serious that happened. I think the woman just left, but what I learned in that was that message was held onto and it was controlled and then it was delivered in a very specific, intentional way. I don’t think there was anything nefarious at all, but that, the principle of the message being held onto when it was more efficient and more considerate and more helpful for everyone to actually be transparent and know what was happening in our jobs, in our daily lives. The fact that was managed was enough to make me realize the principles that you have to follow when you’re in a company that big for things to keep running and be smooth, they weren’t compatible with who I am. They weren’t compatible with what I thought. I don’t have some big, awful tipping point. It was this light bulb moment where I was like, that doesn’t make any sense, and yet I would continue to bring up those things. I was a vocal person in the department. I would bring up, hey, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Can we do this differently? And the answers were always good answers. They didn’t make a lot of sense because they did have to operate in the political sphere of, this is a big corporation, we have to have so many things in mind. I just knew, that was about a year in that I didn’t want to work in corporate America anymore, which was not as soul crushing as one might think, because I don’t know why, but I think it was this obvious, oh, if this isn’t going to work, I’ve got to figure out something else. I still did not know at that moment, I’m going to be an entrepreneur.

Russel: 

Sounds like it’s time to go back to the beach.

Torie: 

Yeah. Thought about it. Even though I was not clear at that time that I was going to run my own company, I had experience working as an intern in a very small boutique digital marketing agency. I thought there’s a lot more logic in that sink or swim, all the decisions make sense. You’ve got 10 employees, not however many thousand. I thought maybe that I was going to scale down big time and be in a different environment. For the next year and a half, I worked on building up my experience, my tool set, and basically client based freelancing as a web designer. I quite frankly got to the point where I had more projects than I could do and have my full time job. It wasn’t ever a big, massive decision. It was like, this baby step, one decision at a time. What makes sense, what is logical, what feels right? At some point, the next decision that I had to make was, do I keep the job I have and keep freelancing, or do I quit my job? I gave two weeks notice and I said bye. That decision was very simple, that I can’t keep this job and do this other thing that I feel happier doing, because I was not reporting to someone who had to make political decisions or tell me what to say for things to go over the right way.

Russel: 

As you made that leap and left behind the security of a paycheck, were you afraid at all? Or at that point you’ve taken enough baby steps that it didn’t as you said, feel like a big leap. What were the emotions at the time?

Torie: 

I think only excitement, a feeling of freedom. I remember deleting all of my alarms, had 50 different variations of the 5:55 and the 6:05. I deleted all my alarms and I had zero inbox. I got my inbox all clear and I was only excited. I felt relieved and I felt free. I have learned that I have certain traits that are not the most common in combination, that make entrepreneurship work for my brain and allow me to function pretty well in it. One of those traits is an irrational level of confidence in myself, in my abilities to figure things out to succeed. I say irrational because to the rest of the world, it’s probably insane, but to me, it is completely rational. I’m like no, I have tons of justification on how confident that I am. It’s probably bordering insanity. I am super confident, so never once did I think, I wonder if I’ll make enough money, or I wonder if this will fail. Not once, never.

Russel: 

I think we might even started a business at a similar age, if I recall. Some of that young, brash, nightivity, that invincibility of youth, I think it’s very helpful, honestly, in a lot of sense, because, it takes away some of that analysis paralysis or fear. Maybe causes some mistakes too, but we learn fast and move on. I definitely understand that rush of excitement as you were starting the business. What was the first wall you hit? You were like, oh crap, this is something unique, or something I didn’t expect.

Torie: 

It was my first client that, at the first review, which is where we present look and feel as well as our way of demonstrating look and feel with more than mocks is a live homepage. That’s part of our process that works so well for us and is one of our big wins. We could actually show our client within two to three weeks on average something real that they can look at and have an opinion about and not try to force an opinion because it’s fonts on a page or colors next to them. In a first review with a particular client, it was the first time that the answer I got back to the question, what do you think? How’s this feeling? Did we get it right? The answer was no. I hate it. It has only happened one more time since then. That was probably year one and then last year in year eight it happened for the second time ever, and I’m always flabbergasted. I have to remind myself, you can’t get it right every time. But again I resumed the insane level of irrational self confidence. I’m like, yeah, we can, every single time. I think it was that I had a client that said, this is not what I want, and it was one of those clients that what they wanted was specific, and it was maybe not something that you would ever recommend. There were reasons why it wasn’t a good design choice or user experience choice. It didn’t matter. I think that was a good and important wake up call for the balance between the customer being satisfied and feeling like they got what they want, and doing your best to guide them. In the end, making sure that they’re happy, that has remained with me. We don’t have ego around what we present in that first review, I don’t think I had ego around it, then. I was shocked at the level of discontent that the client had on what I presented, how much I missed the mark again. It’s happened twice, it’ll happen a third time eventually, but I do tell our clients, we are more interested in hearing what you do not like at our review calls than what you do like. Telling us what you do like certainly gives our designers a better understanding of how to proceed and how to continue and what to keep doing. But what we want to do is we want to hear everything you don’t like because at the end of this hour, we’d like it if all of us felt like we were on the same page, we were going in the right direction, and that the next meeting there’s going to be a lot fewer comments on what you don’t like. That’s the goal.

Russel: 

It’s always the hard line, probably one of the obviously toughest things about creative service or a service oriented business. I had a similar moment in realization in the early days, and went through the same process. I remember we numbered all our comp presentations, this is back in the waterfall days. We were on comp 28B of trying to get the look and feel right. Obviously rout with problems that we ever got to that far in the first place, but I shuddered a little bit as you were explaining that whole process. You mentioned in there that you have a unique process in how you approach the overall construct, especially in terms of the main thing of what you do is building a website. What do you think is most unique and what does that solve and why is that helpful?

Torie: 

I could answer this question 10 different ways. If I’m to keep it most concrete, I think that it could be explained as our combination of the design and the development phases. Think about the experience you’d have if you found the best, most communicative, buttoned up freelancer, and you were like, I have this little side project. I need help with it. I don’t have a lot of thoughts on what it needs to look like. I like this and I like this. I don’t like this, and I don’t like this. I don’t have a lot of copy, but I know what I like when I see it. Can you work with that? It’s hard, but you can find good freelancers who’ve been doing what they’re doing for 10, 20 years, who can take that and run with it. They will meet with you and they will pull the information out of you and they’ll come back with a thing built for you. Not a copy document separate from a design documents. They’re going to build the thing because they’re a freelancer and you’re paying them freelancer rates and they’re not going to take you through 10 different phases. They’re going to build the thing that you said you wanted. If you find a good one, they’ll communicate about the deadlines and they’ll get all the way through the project. You’ll be like, man, I’m happy. I didn’t have to do that myself. That was great. That experience is very hard to find in an agency because agencies being, more people, more on the line, higher stakes, bigger clients, bigger project numbers. There has to be more structure. A lot of times the way that structure and the quality control is implemented has to do with having lots of different experts, a great copywriter, a great UX person, or a good content strategist and then a great designer, and then good developers that can take the design that’s been approved and build it. I am fundamentally against the logic of that system based on the tools that are available today that allow us to build websites. The way that we can now versus how we had to build websites 15 years ago or further. The typical agency structure that has these phases of, even if you separate design and development, oftentimes there’s five or six, but let’s separate those two design development QA. We combine design and development, all those intermediate stages. Sure, we do sketches. Sometimes we don’t need wireframes, but sure, we have wireframes that go around internally that we’re trying to work through. The first thing a client sees is something that has been both designed and implemented on, usually WordPress is what we use most of the time. It’s actually been created. We are showing a development as our very first point of deliverable. This makes our clients feel like they are getting their bang for their buck very quickly. It also allows us to course correct very early on, rather than having a client go all the way through a design process, get it stamped off and approved by everyone on the planet, and then send it to a developer, but by then it’s locked down, right? It’s going to cost money and you’re going to lose time if you back up after that point. Our structure, by allowing design and development to happen jointly and in a marriage, it means that we tell clients all the time, you could change your mind. We have this question, we want to clarify this, by the way, if you change your mind in three weeks, it’s not a big deal. I would like to know what your answer is, and then if that stays your answer, we don’t have to do any more work on it. That’s great. This also allows the nightmarish but inevitable experience about three times a year, of some stakeholder that didn’t need to be involved jumping in at the end because they do actually need to be involved. It makes that crisis much less costly and much less problematic for us and for the client. Yes, we do have to pause. Yes, we will probably have to reschedule the timeline because we’ve added in another person and more opinions. But typically what happens, even if that person comes in and says, wow, I don’t like where we’re going with this. We need to talk about it in about an hour. Because of the tools we use, because of how easy it is to change things and how flexible we are as an agency, about an hour, they’re on the boat with everybody else saying, yeah, I love this. Thank you for making those changes. This is great.

Russel: 

I love a statement, a small part of that, where I could actually see how it was a big impact of telling the client that they can change their mind. Because I can think of, through the whole agency experience, sometimes when a client maybe feels like they’re up against the notion that they can’t change their mind at this stage of finality, they try to throw way more in there than would otherwise be necessary because it has this breadth of finality. Has that been your experience? That’s maybe even somewhat more of a reverse psychology play. How do you look at that very specific element?

Torie: 

I’Ve never thought about it. I know that it works and when I was in corporate America, I was on the client side helping manage very large scale website development projects that were being performed by our vendor. I remember being on the client side of that, hearing, we don’t actually have that ready today. We thought we would, and we would get explanations on why. My question was, then why didn’t you tell us? Why wouldn’t you communicate about that? Why? I learned through that experience. There are good reasons, but they all point back to this fragmented team structure and this phased approach. I don’t know if waterfall is the right word, because I think that could be used in lots of different respects, but that structure I knew on the client side from my experience in corporate was basically the core of the issue. It’s what makes our growth something that I over control a bit. I actually told the team at the beginning of the year, adding new clients is not a goal of ours this year, but client satisfaction is. We will have natural growth if we do that. We do not want to have to hire three people this year. I would like to have to hire maybe one, because there’s too much at stake when you’re a micro agency such as mine. That fourth, fifth, and sixth hire, those people impact such an enormous part of the culture that I actually prefer very slow measured growth versus an explosion. It’s because I have looked when we get more and more inquiries and I’m realizing, oh my gosh, I have to literally tell prospects we’re starting projects in three months. This quarter’s booked, we’re starting in three months. If you think that we’re going to be in discovery then, and that works for you, let’s keep talking. I have gone out and I’ve talked to the agencies and the companies out there who help development agencies in crises like that and say, hey, you take the project. Our process is great. We’ve got a great system. We promise that it’s going to be up to your standards. We can fulfill that work for you and that incremental growth model. Every single one of those agencies I talked to, they cannot function within the structure that we have built that allows our clients to be so happy. They have the same fragmented team structure because it works for the agency. It doesn’t work for the client, but it works so well for the agency and it is scalable and replicable. Hooked On Code’s model is extremely hard to talent source. We have to create our own talent. I’ve never thought too hard about what we say or that our process allows so much flexibility because I could never imagine it any other way, but I’m sure it has some benefits that I’m not aware of.

Russel: 

If we had more time, we could break it all down. I can definitely see all the different things at play. The evolution of the web as a service in general, I remember in the early days,, the mid 2000s, we were pulling all our examples of how to go about this process from the construction industry. That’s how waterfall was invented and all of these other things that seem so archaic in today’s world when we think about the whole web process in general. But it’s not that old of an industry, believe it or not.

Torie: 

It changes so fast, it’s like dog years.

Russel: 

Yeah, that so much as well. You’ve built a good process and a unique experience around the work you do. As you said, it’s not going to solve every situation all the time, because it sounds like you had a rather rough experience with a client that you learned some good lessons from, but obviously had to go through the school of hard knocks there. What was that situation and what did you learn from it?

Torie: 

We had a project that we took on that was, at the time, the largest project that we had done, biggest contract. It was very exciting, it was for an organization that we were pretty excited to be involved with and support. We had a great client contact. We had so much fun during the discovery sessions. I felt, wow, we hit the jackpot. What a fun, knowledgeable, respectful client that gets it and that values our input. About the first review meeting, which we always tell our clients, every stakeholder has to be in the first review because we set so much of our momentum there that if we miss someone’s input, it can derail the timeline significantly. That’s a requirement. If we can’t get organized, we have to wait. We’re going to wait to have that meeting until everybody can be there, and then we can fan out and have smaller groups. There was a key hire, president of the organization was actually hired after the homepage review and came in and wanted to make her mark. Starting at that point, the project became nearly impossible to satisfy her because she didn’t select us as a vendor. She didn’t have input on that. The project was already underway so we did our best. We launched the project. Everybody was happy at how we ended up launching it. It ended up being a break even project for us. Despite all of our excitement, it was not a profitable project for us because we had to do so much additional work to bring this person into the fold and get her on the boat. After we launched, we recommended a certain size of retainer because we knew how difficult this particular person who became our new client contact was. We were denied. We were told, no, let’s do this many hours. That should be enough. You’ll have to tell us when we hit it. It wasn’t respected. It was probably the most abusive client relationship that we’ve ever had. After several months of alerting, this was the overage. We told you that we needed to stop and we were told to keep going. You need to pay our invoices. We had a crisis internally. People on our team were about to quit because of the abusive behavior of the client. Of course, I want all clients to be happy so my thought was, I have to figure out how to fire this client. This is not a good client for us. I was given advice from someone I trust, and that was a learning experience too, just because it’s good advice doesn’t mean it’s going to be the right advice for you to take. It is probably great advice. It was, hey, if this is gonna be a problem to fire this client, you only have two to three clients in this industry, in this sector. Do you enjoy working for them? Are any of them profitable? No. Then why don’t you call’em? Why don’t you make a company-wide decision? This will help you in the future, avoid problems like this. Let’s announce that you’re not going to work with the sector in the future and that you’re offboarding these clients in 30 days. I checked our contracts. Technically it all lined up. We can let each other go for any reason. I need to give them 30 days notice to find a new supplier. I called the actual founder, not the person who was abusive, because I wanted to keep a good relationship with him. I let him know we are no longer serving clients in this sector. That means we need to off board your project. I learned, in retrospect, if I’m being honest with myself, I was not transparent with this person. I did not tell him that the hire he made was the reason that we were leaving. I did not inform him that we were being abused. I didn’t have the courage to actually tell him what was happening. I made a decision not to work with an entire sector and let go of two other clients that weren’t abusive, they weren’t profitable, so that I didn’t have to fess up to the actual experience that I was having with this client. I learned 10 million things from it, but I think most important for me to look back and realize that was the cowardly choice. It did come back to bite me in the butt. This person was as mad as I would have been and shared it publicly. It’s the only thing that’s shared publicly that is anything other than five stars for us. Of course, what was shared is not completely true and there’s difficulty that I have with that because there’s a lack of understanding of what was left and how we built things. In general, I think it was a bad call. I think I should have owned up to what was actually happening and protected my team in a more transparent way.

Russel: 

What a good lesson learned. Unfortunately, a lot of times our best experiences come from failures and/or bad experiences, but sounds like you got some good takeaways from that. As we look to the future for Hooked On Code, what is that?

Torie: 

Something that has happened in the last year is we’ve expanded our tool set. We were for a very long time marketing ourselves as a Divi agency, back when everyone was, we’re a Genesis shop or we’re X, Y, and Z. Agencies would pick a particular tool set or theme or builder, and then they would lean into it. We have used Divi since the beginning of Divi, and it is a very powerful tool and we’re huge fans of it. We, in the last year, have not only started adopting and supporting Elementor sites and building with Elementor when we realized this is the most logical tool for this particular content type or this organization or these people’s requests, but we’ve also started taking and building on closed source platforms. Shopify, we used to build on Shopify a long time ago. We’ve started building on Shopify again. We have three Shopify projects active at the moment as well as adopting elementor sites or sites that are built, even with custom themes. We’ve started adopting enterprise sites and managing them, even if we didn’t build them, which is actually hard to find. It’s hard to find an agency who will do that. We’ve also started building starter sites with Squarespace for companies that say, my budget’s lower than that. This is a starter site. I’d love to work with you for phase two when it’s time. What can we do? We’ve been able to come with a lot of options to clients and be more of a technology consultant for prospects and say, this is the technology that I think best fits your needs, and then we let them know if we build on that or not. If we do, a lot of times we can offer a closed source option and an open source option and explain the limitations that come with one and the budget that comes with the other. We can work together on finding the right solution as their preferred agency of choice because we have options for them, which is nice.

Russel: 

Last big question for you, are entrepreneurs born or are they made?

Torie: 

Both, because there’s a lot of different kinds of entrepreneurs. I think that I was probably born with the traits of an entrepreneur and had no idea. Now that I am an entrepreneur, I go, man, I was born to do this. However, I have a lot of friends that run businesses that do not have the traits that set them up to be like, I was born to do this, but they do it and they do it well. It takes more effort and it’s less natural and yet they’ve been doing it for 20 years and are leaps and bounds ahead of me in terms of lessons and success and size and everything. I think entrepreneurs may be more important to whether they are born or are they made. In my opinion is the fact that they are important. I think anyone can be an entrepreneur, and I think for our economy and for the sake of humanity, we need more of them. I’m a big believer in entrepreneurship. Both.

Russel: 

That’s where a majority of people land. If people want to know more about Hooked On Code, where can they go?

Torie: 

They can go to HookedOnCode.com or delightful.Af.

Russel: 

Delightful. af. What does AF stand for? Kidding. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Torie, it was a pleasure to hear all the different things you’ve learned and different experiences along the way, and look forward to your continued success.

Torie: 

Thank you so much, Russel. It’s been a pleasure.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to podcast@performancefaction.com. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction. Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million dollars and more in revenue. To learn more, visit performancefaction.com.

Torie: 

In, I would say year three of the business, we sponsored a traveling conference and there were four or five stops. Our sponsorship got us a booth and we basically ate our way across America for the sponsorship. I know that the purpose was for us to go and establish our presence and get clients, and we did, and we broke even on the whole investment, including travel and everything. When we would book our hotel, where we would stay, and plan out our itinerary, It always started with finding the highest ranked dessert places, local desserts on Yelp, and then we would build it out from there. I think the importance of food and desserts to our agency operations and our marketing plan is comical.

Russel: 

It sounds like it’s all worth it to me. Looking back, would you do it all over again? That’s probably the ultimate answer.

Torie: 

I would not do the conference again, but I would do the eating across America again.

Russel: 

Sounds like a good plan to me.